Voiceover Artist and Actor Jools Berry discusses turning her novel Ray’s Game into B7 Media’s latest audiobook release…
Jools Berry might not be a name you immediately recognise, but if you’ve ever travelled on a train in the South East of England there’s a good chance you’ve heard her. As the voice of Thameslink, Greater Anglia and London Underground’s Piccadilly Line trains, she’s the disembodied relater of information and reassurance. Apparently all-seeing and all-knowing… there’s a theme here, which we’ll get to in a minute!
In 2017 Jools wrote and self-published Ray’s Game, a meta-physical romantic comedy starring Ray, a modern-day Cary Grant who realises his Hollywood lifestyle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Ray is increasingly convinced something in his shallow, showbiz life needs to change. But what? And how? When a red-carpet run-in lands him in hospital, Ray is whisked off, via an out-of-body experience, into the presence of the omniscient “IT” and Angels Patience, Prudence and Freddie the dog (the aforementioned Labrador) are charged with steering him in the right direction.
However, despite being a voiceover artist in possession of a voiceover booth and some impressive narration and acting skills, the audiobook version of Ray’s Game never happened. Until now.
Ray’s Game, read by its author Jools Berry, is published as an audiobook by B7 Media and available to buy exclusively from the B7 Media shop, with publication on other platforms coming in the Spring.
Intrigued as to how Ray’s story came about, we decided to ask Jools to reveal all and tell us about how she found bringing her book to life for those who love to listen.
What inspired you to write a book and where did the story for Ray’s Game come from?
It’s a good question and not easy to answer – where does anything come from? I’d have to go back quite a way for the answer. In the late 80s, I was working at the BBC – I come from an acting background and I was a member of the Radio Drama Company at the time – one of my very favourite jobs! We called ourselves the Radio Rep, because we were like a repertory company that made radio plays for Radio 4 and sometimes Radio 3 (the highbrow stuff!). I’d always wanted to do radio acting – I’ve always loved listening to the radio – you get the best pictures on radio because they’re your pictures. And when I left to concentrate on voiceovers, which I was doing a lot of, I toyed with the idea of writing a radio play.
I had an idea that I loved, but couldn’t work out how I could make it work on radio. I did some very good writing courses during this time, to learn more about story structure and developing character, and gradually the idea changed and morphed into the basic story of Ray’s Game. I’ve long been into the esoteric and hold the belief that we are Spirit first and foremost, come to live a physical life for our learning and development. Earthly life as kindergarten for the soul!
What was it like narrating your own work?
It was very enjoyable narrating Ray’s Game because I know the characters so well, but that is also the difficulty. I had heard their voices in my head for so long while writing the book but, although I like to think I’m quite good with character voices, it’s difficult to get them exactly as you hear them in your head, for obvious reasons. I found little Bella’s voice the trickiest – my own quite deep voice doesn’t lend itself to children’s voices at all!
Is there one character in the book that you identify with or enjoyed writing the most?
I think it’s probable that all the characters have some element of me in them, so I love them all. Ray, of course, is the most important as it’s his story and he’s complicated. But I relate to him totally because, like Ray, I was often told when I was young that, no, I couldn’t do whatever it was that I wanted to – I was too small, too large, too stupid or too something else. There was always a reason why not, rather than a reason why. Once I became an adult and was in charge of my own life, I told myself that I could do anything if I worked hard, but that little critical voice in your head will stop you in your tracks if you let it and there’s always someone else along the way to pour scorn on your ideas. I’ve practised a mantra meditation for over 30 years now and I’ve developed quite a strong intuition. I try to always let that be my guide and, who knows, perhaps Ray’s ‘external’ help from Patience and Prudence isn’t really ‘external’ at all.
Any plans for future books?
Nothing in the near future, but I’ve been working on an idea which I may be able to write in due course…